City on the Oscars: Escape to Victory - Manchester City FC

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Oscars Escape to victory
Season 2010/11

City on the Oscars: Escape to Victory

  • 24 February 2011 16:00
  • Posted by Peter Ferguson

On Oscars night, one man's story is worth the re-telling - especially for City fans!

Mike Summerbee has not only strolled down the red carpet of a big movie premiere but also acted - and played football - alongside Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine. And quite a few people know that.

Club ambassador Mike was one of the stars of Escape to Victory, a 1981 drama directed by the great John Huston and centred on a daring wartime prison camp break during a football match.

Pele and Bobby Moore were among his team-mates in the prison XI, and while it won no Oscars, Escape to Victory has remained a popular movie that still crops up on TV at Christmas and other holiday times.

Mike recalls: "Bobby Moore, who I'd been close friends with since I was 16, got in touch and said: Do you fancy being a movie star? I thought he was joking - but it was a genuine Hollywood movie with top-notch actors.

"I'd retired from football six months earlier and Bobby had, too, so it was a great opportunity to do something different. The financial side of it was very good and not long after we met up in London and flew out.

"We flew to Budapest sitting at the back of a Hungarian Airlines plane and picked up our visas on arrival. It wasn't until we landed that we discovered Pele had been sitting in first class!"

Mike, Bobby and Pele went to join Stallone, fresh from the global success of Rocky, and Caine as well as fellow players Kaziu Deyna, Ossie Ardiles, Paul Cooper, Kevin Beattie, John Wark and Russell Osman.

"The first time we went on the pitch I had to head the ball and then say a line to Michael Caine. He said: I'll guide you around and make sure you end up in shot all the time. And he did, which was a nice gesture.

Michael loved the lads and was very down to earth. He likes his football and enjoyed a bit of a laugh and the banter. We all behaved professionally, but we made sure we enjoyed it as well.

...Mike Summerbee ...

"We'd work from half five in the morning until eight at night. It went really well and within six weeks it was complete. Afterwards John Huston said he'd expected the footballers to be spoiled brats, but we'd been easier to work with than some actors!

"I used to make bespoke shirts at the time, and I measured up Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone on set then delivered the shirts to Los Angeles in person at the premiere of Rocky II.

"Our wives came over for a few days too and we all had a great time. It was odd because the actors wanted to be footballers and the footballers wanted to be actors. That was funny. We had knockabout games whenever we could.

"I couldn't make the New York premiere, I went to the one in Manchester. I think it's become a cult movie because it's a good family movie. It's shown on TV regularly - it's had an afterlife around the world, particularly in Europe."

Mike still has the special tie that all the cast members received: "When I wore it to an event, Roberto Mancini's eyes immediately lit up when he found out. He said: Were you in that? That's my favourite film."

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